Online Storage, Backups & Virus Filtering

Storage options vary by plan, but on average each a user gets around 1GB of which is pooled, each site collection can use upto 50GB. The company as a whole can use upto 1TB worth. Users also get a large mailbox that can hold upto 25GB worth of mail. The user is also able to send attachments that are upto 25MB in size. Users can also opt to purchase additional SharePoint Online storage space in GB increments, charged monthly.

Students have the option for a free 25GB online storage allowance on Windows Live SkyDrive.

Backups will be something on most people’s minds in the unlikely event that all data is lost. There are data protection services provided to prevent the loss of SharePoint Online data. Backups are performed every 12 hours and held for the following 14 days.

Virus Filtering
Security components are part of SharePoint Online to help protect the environment from viruses, while also maintaining uptime and the best possible performance.

SharePoint Branding

For the majority of organisations and businesses, branding of SharePoint sites will be essential. There are a few strategies to implementing branding on SharePoint sites, including but not limited to, master pages, page layouts and CSS. Master pages define the shared elements to the site, such as logo, navigation and footers, while page layouts offer a powerful and flexible way to mange the overall look to the sites pages. CSS is used to control the overall display of page elements, including images, fonts, layouts and page structure.

This article goes into detail about SharePoint customisation. It’s split into three articles.
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3: Coming Soon.

Another useful article I read about SharePoint Branding can be found at:

Office Web Apps

Office Web Apps is a great way to access your documents from  almost anywhere on almost any device. It also provides a brilliant tool for groups of people to view and edit documents at the same time, removing the need to email back and forth multiple versions of an Excel spreadsheet for example. Everyone can see the most up to date version regardless of their location.  The link below contains a video to show how easy it is to use Office Web Apps on the go.

The remote access capabilities that SharePoint Server 2010 and Office Web Apps provide are also of great benefit within educational institutions. From the case study (link below) Herrity says, “Students can connect to resources instantly and easily. Office Web Apps help students accomplish more. They can access applications through the browser, without needing software installed on their home machines. This removes many socio-economic issues.” Now, it does not matter whether students have the latest version of Microsoft Office installed on their home computers. Through the learning gateway, students can quickly and easily make changes within the browser based Office Web Apps, which are covered by the school’s licensing.

What can Office 365 offer an educational institution?

The big advantage of Office 365 for Education is the low cost. To have all the services that Office 365 can offer, running and maintaining on-premise systems is far more expensive. Office 365 can offer students free Exchange Email and free SharePoint Online, which includes Office Web Apps. There will be a per user per month charge for staff for some functionality.

One great advantage, that again can save money, is that price plans can be mixed and matched to meet the needs of the workforce. So for example some members of staff may not need the SharePoint functionality, so they could be assigned a lower price plan, which could be free depending on services required. (UK Price plans still to be confirmed for Office 365 for Education).

Office 365 can also offer students Lync Online, again for free. This enables easy collaboration on assignments and instant team meetings as well as instant messaging, voice and even video chat with the click of a button. You can also see who is online, just like many other IM providers.

All of these features can be combined with the Office Desktop software for a small charge (per user per month) for both students and staff who wish to combine the services to give a more complete package.

Uptime Guarantee

Microsoft is offering a financial uptime guarantee, whereby if the guarantee is broken the organisation can claim money from Microsoft. The amount this is will vary depending on the total outage time, but upto a maximum 100% or the service fees paid. This guarantee covers any downtime whether it be during the week, in the evening or even at night. A payout will be made once the uptime drops below 99.9%. The fact that the guarantee covers ‘all time’ rather than just business days is essential for the service running within an educational environment. The service would need to be open for weekends and evenings to ensure students can access learning materials at any time.